NEWS FROM THE STOKE LENGTHSMAN – March 2015
The recent weeks have been exceptionally busy and thankfully the weather has been kind enough to let me and my volunteers crack on. We started off with the last of the winter tree work, which had to be done as soon as possible so as not to disturb birds during nesting season. This included winching a Willow tree out from the river’s edge which had started rooting, removing a large branch that had snapped off and wedged itself high up in a tree, and felling a dead Alder so that it landed gently on one of our work boats (we were deliberately aiming for the boat to make cutting it up easier). Of course on a “normal” National Trust property we could just drive up to the tree, cut it up with a chainsaw and go onto the next job. Working on a river however means that access is via boat and most of our tree work doesn’t fit neatly into any of the standard ways of doing things. This is where experience, ingenuity and plenty of elbow grease are key to getting the job done safely and efficiently.
The Wey Navigation Conservation Volunteers had a work day at Dapdune Wharf, before the Wharf opened to visitors for the season. The tasks set for us were finishing a weaved Hazel fence using previously coppiced material, removing gorse bushes, and having a bonfire with all the waste material. It was a great day with plenty of interesting work for the large group of volunteers to be getting on with. The workload grew significantly after lunch when we realised that we also had a long section of fence to repair after we removed the brambles that were covering the gap! Thankfully everyone worked together and with a late finish the fence was secured, the site was tidy and the fire burnt to embers.
Just before Easter, I concentrated on getting both Stoke and Bowers Lock looking pristine before what is traditionally the start of the boating season. With plenty of help from my volunteers we have not only cut the grass but also painted both locks, scraped the vegetation from the lock gates and cleaned all the signage. Thank you so much to my volunteers for all their hard work and I hope that whether you’re walking, cycling, boating or canoeing you will agree that the Stoke length is looking great for all their effort.
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